Unlocking Hidden Resource Capacity: Enhancing Employee and Customer Experience

Our Financial Advice client faced a critical issue with their pensions and investments research process. Process inefficiencies significantly impacted customer experience and satisfaction, resulting in a growing backlog and extended delivery times. These delays exceeded the agreed Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and led to frustration among employees and customers. As a result, some customers decided to take their business elsewhere, making the need for a solution to this problem all the more urgent. 

Analysing the Process and Our Approach 

We partnered with the client to map out their entire end-to-end process, which relied heavily on paper. This process revealed high levels of duplication in data entry and the manual transcription of information between systems. These manual processes introduced numerous opportunities for errors. Multiple checks had been incorporated across the process, to mitigate these risks which, ironically, added to the inefficiencies. 

We sat around a table, sticky notes and whiteboards surrounding us, and together mapped out the existing end-to-end process that existed; which traditionally relied heavily on paper. By working closely with their team and understanding their daily tasks, we uncovered high levels of duplication in data entry and the manual transcription of information between systems. These manual processes introduced numerous opportunities for errors. Multiple manual checks had been incorporated across the process to mitigate these risks, which ironically, added to the inefficiencies. Throughout our discussions and approach, we were conscious to emphasise and understand the expertise of the people who have traditionally been working with these processes, ensuring that the human connection and their invaluable insights were at the forefront of our efforts and decisions as they were ultimately the team that were going to enjoy the new ways of working. 

Identifying Inefficiencies 

To address these issues, we formed an ‘improvement team’ comprising representatives from various stages of the end-to-end process. Using simple visual techniques, we highlighted the extent of these inefficiencies caused by the accumulated checks. We upskilled th ‘improvement team’ in Lean principles, equipping them with the knowledge to identify key pain points. Our approach included supporting the team to develop new skills and stressing the importance of providing constructive challenge to each other. We acknowledged that criticism can be difficult to receive and that everyone in the room comes to work to do a good job – no-one sets out to design a process that doesn’t work. We encouraged the improvement team to approach the analysis with an open mind…and an open heart. Employing creative thinking techniques, we co-created potential solutions and helped them prioritise their ideas. We recommended small-scale testing of these potential solutions to evaluate their viability and impact. 

Achieving Outcomes 

We provided a structured approach for small-scale testing and supported the ‘improvement team’ in validating the potential solutions. The testing revealed that it was possible to reduce the hands-on processing time from approximately half a day to just 20 minutes, while the overall elapsed time decreased from 8 weeks to 4 weeks. 

Risk Assessment and Mitigation 

One of the barriers to change was the perceived risk associated with this end-t-end process.  A comprehensive risk review demonstrated that the perceived risks could easily be mitigated with the existing technology. The results of the small-scale testing and risk mitigation review were compiled into a case for change, presented to the senior leadership team. The proposal emphasised the simplicity of the required changes and the substantial improvements that could be achieved without necessitating system changes or additional investment. 

Implementation and Results 

The case for change was readily accepted by the senior leadership team, leading to the implementation of the proposed process changes. These changes resulted in a 10% reduction in staff resources required to complete the process.  This equated to 3,000 hours per year (or 1.5 full-time equivalent positions) across a team of approximately 15 people and supported the growth of this business function without additional staffing costs. 

Additionally, the overall process time was halved, reducing it to around 21 working days. These improvements were realised by decreasing the time spent chasing and sourcing information from third parties, eliminating duplicate data entries and manual transcriptions between systems, correcting errors, and removing multiple manual checkpoints. 


The success of this project underscores the importance of thorough process analysis, incorporation of the existing team’s expertise, insights and knowledge of what the key outcomes should look like, as well as the application of Lean principles in identifying and addressing inefficiencies. By empowering teams with the right skills and fostering a collaborative approach to problem-solving, significant improvements can be achieved with minimal investment. This case study highlights how even established processes in highly regulated Financial Advice can be streamlined to enhance efficiency, optimise costs by reducing the need for head count increase, improve customer satisfaction and overall influence growth.